The Time Project
Share My Telly Job are delighted to announce today that they are spearheading a major academic research project into working hours in the television industry, proudly supported by Bectu. Stories about the impact of overwork in television production are common but there has been no long-term study into working hours to provide an understanding about who, in the TV industry, carries the burden of overwork. The Time Project will collect data to help inform equality, diversity and inclusivity policies across the industry.
The project is in conjunction with Dr Rowan Aust (University of Huddersfield) and Dr Jon Swords (University of York), and funded through the Screen Industries Growth Network (SIGN). SIGN is led by the University of York and is a business-facing initiative supporting the TV, film and games industries in Yorkshire and the Humber funded by Research England. SIGN connects companies, support agencies and universities through a programme of training, diversity and inclusivity programmes, business development and research.
The research team will be working in collaboration with experienced freelancers Louise Patel, Michelle James Reynolds and Natalie Grant who head up Share My Telly Job, an organisation who promote practical solutions in the TV industry through job-sharing as a way to retain talent and provide a fairer workplace for freelancers. They are also involved with the Television Freelancers Task Force.
Louise Patel from SMTJ said:
“By gathering data on working hours, researchers will be able to build an accurate picture of how hours worked correlate to pay, ethnicity, gender and disability, as well as the impact on health and safety issues and workforce well-being. From our campaigning over the past 5 years with SMTJ, we know that working hours are intrinsically linked to issues of burnout, the lack of diversity, the loss of women in the industry, career stagnation and serious mental health issues – with solid evidence of unfair working practice we can continue our work with Bectu to bring real, fundamental change to the industry ”
The hope is that the data collected will enable researchers to build an accurate picture of the way freelancers work in television, establishing patterns of behaviour and establishing patterns of overwork which have major impacts on workers’ health and wellbeing.
Dr Jon Swords of SIGN said:
“The Time Project could be potentially transformative for understanding the amount of additional time television workers contribute to the screen industries. The data collected will be valuable to understand the nature of overworking and identifying who does the most, which parts of the sector are impacted the most and if some parts of the country are better at providing fairer contracts. Working with SMTJ provides us with an excellent opportunity to understand working practices across the TV industry.”
Dr Rowan Aust said:
“Excessive working hours are endemic in television production and understanding patterns of why long hours are typical rather than exceptional is key to changing the industry for the better across all equality, diversity and inclusivity agendas. Television asks new entrants to work these hours for cripplingly low pay. It asks that parents make a choice between work and their kids. It is preventative of caring for others and selves. This data will allow us to understand who is impacted the most and how practice can be changed for the benefit of everyone making TV.”
The project is supported by Bectu who will roll out the study to their members and work closely with SMTJ and SIGN to collect essential data with the view to making more impactful change for freelancers in relation to rates and working hours across the screen industries.
Head of Bectu, Philippa Childs said:
“Bectu has consistently campaigned against the culture of long hours that go unpaid. Our Eyes Half Shut campaign highlighted the devastating impact these working practices have on content, mental health and wellbeing. We know that people working in film and TV don’t want to continue working in this way. As the industry returns to work we will be working on behalf of nearly 20,000 freelance members to ensure that working conditions improve and do not deteriorate as a result of the pandemic. This piece of work comes at a crucial time and we will be urging members to take part.”
The Time Project will launch with a pilot in September where participants will be asked to upload their working hours either daily or weekly. The aim is to rollout an app soon after, which freelancers and staff can use to upload anonymised data for the study.